T h e F i n a l C h a p t e r

Naruto stopped dancing. This really was one too many shocks for the night. He let go his grip on Sasuke's shoulders, and pushed the Uchiha away.

"Don't say that."

"Why not? I mean it."

By this point, everyone who wasn't watching the couple already was by now; the chatter had ceased and the soft music seemed drowned out by the silence.

"Shut up." Naruto half-hissed and half-pleaded.

"I mean it Naruto – I love you."

There was an intake of breath and the chatter started up again – not too loud though, since there was more of the conversation to be heard yet. It was like the whisper of rainfall – everyone was waiting for the final cloud to burst.

"You're a fucking twat, you know that, Sasuke? Why would you tell me this now?" Just as I'm finally getting over you. Naruto added in his head. "Why?"

"Because I only just realised it myself." Sasuke said quietly. He was aware that he was making a scene. But technically, since Uchihas didn't make scenes, and he was an Uchiha, he wasn't making a scene. Either that or he wasn't an Uchiha right now … which would also be possible after tonight.

Naruto remained silent. He felt enough emotion at the best of times, and the river of them that was flooding through him was almost too much to bear. He stepped forwards, hesitantly, towards Sasuke and then stopped again. Sasuke made a small gesture, as if to reach out to him, but stopped before it could become anything too much.

Naruto's face flickered with emotion as he took another tentative step forwards …

… And the lights flickered as a fist met with Sasuke's face. Ow. Was really his only response, and it was a silent one.

"You deserved that." Naruto said, and Sasuke didn't really agree, but he remained silent; letting the silence speak for him, as he so often did. The funny thing about silence was that people interpreted it how they wanted to. He hoped that he had said enough to make Naruto believe him. It was probably more words than he had said out loud at one time since he was small. He wondered if Naruto would realise this and draw more of his own conclusions. He hoped so – it didn't look like talking was an option with his suddenly bruised jaw.

Finally, the crowd and Sasuke were spared the tension, as Naruto took that final step forwards and threw his arms around the boy whose lips he had waited so long to hear the words "I love you" from. Sasuke, wincing inwardly at further contact with his jaw, returned the hug, and resisted the urge to bury his head in Naruto's shoulder, though the blonde was showing no qualms in doing so himself, and was even pressing his lips slightly against the other boy's pale neck.

"As touching as all of this is." Fugaku's voice resounded through the tent; the first to break the silence being held. "Sasuke is still engaged to marry Miyuki, and that plan has met no difficulties so far as I am aware." He looked disdainfully down his nose at the two boys still hugging on the dance floor. "The last time this stunt was pulled, it was no more than an attempt at avoiding responsibility, and I am not going to allow a temperamental teenager to have his own way again. Sasuke, you will still marry Ukitake Miyuki."

"No." a voice rang clearly back in response.

"I'm sorry?"

"I said: 'No'." It was Kyuubi who stepped forwards; the same height as Uchiha Fugaku in her heels. And these ones really could be used for murder, the crowd noted. "Ukitake Miyuki is not engaged to marry any Uchiha. She is engaged to marry me. She has already accepted."

Now there was a real scene building up: if the October ball had been good for gossip, the Christmas Eve get-together was proving to be twice as good as that. It was Ukitake Daigo's turn to step forwards now.

"I have heard no such news as this!" he blustered "I was under the same illusions as Fugaku-san, and I have no intention of allowing my daughter to lower herself in society so much by professing her love for another woman."

"It's too late father." Miyuki was immediately by Kyuubi's side. "She's right – she has proposed and I have accepted." She held out her hand, sparkling with an antique diamond, and smiled slightly. "I love her very much, and nothing would make me happier than to spend the rest of my life with her."

It was like a game of tennis but with unlimited players! The guests at the party were really starting to enjoy themselves now.

"Good god, Namikaze, both your children are homos!? You must have gone wrong somewhere." Ukitake burst out, unthinking, and his wife, as well as Kushina and Mikoto, rounded him.

"What did you just say?" they demanded murderously, practically in unison.

Naruto's father stepped forward to take the stage. "My wife and I raised our children to know the benefits of unconditional love. They have chosen their partners based on a purer form of affection, and I have no qualms with this. If this is what they want in life, then I am happy for them, and do not wish to hear any more on the matter from those too ignorant, and too closed-minded to understand." Kushina stepped to her husband's side and held tightly to his arm.

"I, too, support my children in their decisions." She announced bravely. Mikoto and Kazumi nodded their approval sharply.

"I don't need your approval for this marriage, father." Miyuki said quietly, "I'm old enough and well enough supported to do whatever I like. But I would like you to accept me for who I am, nonetheless."

Daigo looked from his wife to his daughter hopelessly. He was unsure of how to react to all this of a sudden. "I don't know if I can …" he muttered, and the two women sank visibly; one from rejection by her father, the other disappointed in her husband. "… But you are my darling, only child" he continued at these deflations "and I will … try, to understand." Mrs Ukitake kissed her husband joyfully and congratulated him.

"Unfortunately, Sasuke is not old enough to marry without my permission as yet." Fugaku's drawl cut short the celebrations. "And he has no means to live without my support."

"He has my permission." Mikoto shot down her husband. "And he has my support."

A small cheer went up from the crowd, and Fugaku frowned ever so slightly.

"I agree with mother." Itachi murmured, appearing amongst the small crowd now gathered on the dance floor. "I will support my brother if he needs it."

"Well … if that is the will of my family, then I suppose I have no choice but to bend to it." Fugaku said, though the words did not fit the tone of his voice. "For now, I have had enough of this public spectacle. I will see you all later, I have no doubt." He added, and swept from the room with a chilling air.

"I'll talk to your father" Mikoto mouthed at Sasuke, and her youngest son nodded, gratefully, before gathering Naruto further into his arms. The boy he loved was so warm, and he was so cold. He never wanted to be cold again. Thinking this, he looked at Naruto who was staring, stunned, after his lover's father and family, as well as at his own. Carefully, so as not to startle the idiot, Sasuke put his hand against Naruto's face and turned it so they were facing one another.

"Why do you always have to start a scene?" he demanded as affectionately as he could manage – which wasn't particularly affectionate, it seemed, as Naruto opened his mouth in order to come back with some biting retort. Fortunately, before the Uchiha had, once more, to resort to silence, he had captured Naruto's lips with his own, and was kissing him into oblivion.

It was not like any of the other kisses they had shared; not a drunken sloppy mess, or an attempt to humiliate the other, but a true kiss. A kiss both boys had been waiting for, for a long time. Perhaps without even realising it.

They both knew now, and were thankful, that this relationship was no longer a pretence.

So we have finally reached our conclusion! Thanks for sticking with us throughout all the delays - I'm sure Pebbles will be very pleased to know how much of a great response this story has been getting. Hope you enjoyed our little romance! x Kiri x